The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out $37 billion in annual contribution of travel and tourism to the Philippine economy in 2020, the World Travel & Tourism Council said Wednesday.
The WTTC, which represents the global travel and tourism private sector, said in its annual Economic Impact Report that the travel and tourism sector’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product dropped 41.4 percent last year.
It said travel and tourism’s impact on the GDP fell from $90 billion in 2019 to $52.8 billion in 2020 because of travel restrictions. It also resulted in the loss of 2 million jobs across the industry.
It said jobs lost were felt across the entire travel and tourism ecosystem, particularly by small and medium enterprises which make up 8 of 10 global businesses in the sector.
The number of people employed in the Philippine travel and tourism sector also declined 21 percent from more than 9.5 million in 2019 to less than 7.6 million in 2020.
“The loss of 2 million travel and tourism jobs in the Philippines has had a terrible socio-economic impact. However, we are aware of the government’s strong commitment to our sector and believe that through their efforts in restarting tourism safely, these jobs will be restored,” said WTTC senior vice president Virginia Messina.
“WTTC believes that a clear roadmap for increased mobility including comprehensive rapid testing in place, will bring the certainty needed and set Philippines in a path to recover the two million jobs lost,” she said.
Messina said the Philippines also adopted WTTC’s Safe Travels stamp as its commitment to the recovery of safe international travel.
“As the host of our next Global Summit, we are confident that over the coming months, its Travel & Tourism sector will begin to thrive again, which will in turn save businesses and jobs, and provide a much-needed boost to its economy,” she said.
WTTC also commended the Department of Tourism for the introduction of the ‘green lane’ policy for both national and international vaccinated travelers, which is expected to boost travel and tourism in the Philippines.
WTTC said the damage could have been much worse if the government had not provided critical financial support to small businesses under the Small Business Wage Subsidy measure.
The report also found out significant impact on women, youth and minorities.
It said domestic visitor spending declined by 35.5 percent, while international spending plunged 78.8 percent because of stringent global travel restrictions.
Messina said the Department of Tourism recently announced steps to boost the travel and tourism sector by introducing a ‘green lane’ policy for both national and international vaccinated travelers.
“This move is certainly a step in the right direction and will further aid the recovery,” Messina said.
WTTC research shows that if mobility and international travel resume by June this year, the sector’s contribution to global GDP could rise sharply in 2021, by 48.5 percent year-on-year.
WTTC said the key to unlocking safe international travel can be achieved through a clear and science-based framework which includes rapid testing, as well as enhanced health and hygiene protocols, including mask wearing.
These measures will be the foundation to build the recovery of the many millions of jobs lost due to the pandemic.
It would also reduce the terrible social implications these losses have had on communities reliant on travel and tourism and upon ordinary people who have been isolated by COVID-19 restrictions, it said.